For many Savannahians, Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without the annual balls–to–the–wall rock ‘n’ roll performance art of the glamorous GAM guys.
If you’re new to our fair city and its musical rites of All Hallows, get ready for something that’s talked about in hushed, reverential tones.
GAM returns to the Jinx Saturday, Oct. 27.
GAM was “psychedelic punk” before the term existed. It’s an uninhibited, loud, wild rock ‘n’ roll show, heavily theatrical, playing original music from a progressive catalog that began almost 20 years ago with a science fiction rock opera.
Fame and fortune didn’t beckon, and eventually the players went their separate ways, some morphing into Superhorse (yet another legendary Savannah band), some following slightly different stars.
Every Halloween, however, the debauchery comes out of the closet.
“I look forward to Halloween, because it’s an interesting, cathartic season for everybody,” says singer Keith Kozel. “They get to dress up and act crazy. But because we don’t really play, it’s an exciting time for me. I get to hang out with my buddies, and play rock ‘n’ roll. Loud. And just cut loose, you know?”
The members of GAM will, of course, be dressed in appropriate holiday finery (except for the wiry Kozel, who moves around too much to be so encumbered), the lights will be fiery, and as always there will be props both appropriate and not so.
In the old days, Kozel kept a steamer trunk onstage, packed with freaky props.
“You never know what’s gonna show up,” he teases. “We use less props than we used to. Because it’s Halloween, and that’s based in the old Druidic, pagan tradition, I’ll bring some produce, and paints, things like that. The performance art is almost more ritualistic than anything now.”
Guitarist Kevin Rose is proud that GAM is part of the city’s musical fabric. “Savannah’s about tradition, and it doesn’t matter if it’s one sort of tradition or another,” Rose says. “We just try to give it our all, and I think people recognize that.
“Also, it’s entertainment too. It’s not just about us playing music — it’s a show. And on Halloween, people want to be part of something like that. That’s what we’ve tried to do — since ’93.”
Founding bassist Ronny Kersey is part of the madness, and Bottles & Cans’ Mike Walker — who replaced Kersey in the original lineup — will also be on board for a segment of the set.
The drummer is Josh Safer, and Ricardo Ochoa plays violin and keyboards.
GAM took a hiatus last Halloween — Kozel was ill — and so the 2012 edition is going to be more than a little special. The guys are pumped and primed.
“We’re gonna play a crazy rock show,” trumpets Rose. “There’s music, and sweat, everything that a good show should have. That’s part of that connection with the audience, too.”
Everybody’s a little older, and — maybe — a little wiser. At this point, adds Kozel, “We’re not trying to prove anything. We just enjoy playing this music, and playing this music together, and we know that there are people that like hearing it. It’s very appropriate for Halloween because it’s kinda spooky and weird.”
How appropriate? For you newbies, be advised that GAM — fierce, hard, intense — is really just the opening act for the Jinx’s annual blood–wrestling competition.
“We play, and then the blood wrestling happens,” explains Rose. “There’s no cleaning up after the blood wrestling. We tried it one year, and it was a slip–sliding fest.”